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[Published: Tuesday March 10 2009]

Troops oust Madagascar minister

Antananarivo, 10 March-(ANA)-Madagascar's defence minister has resigned after being confronted by a group of soldiers in his office.

A section of the army had announced they would no longer obey the government and would instead follow opposition leader Andry Rajoelina.

Mr Rajoelina is understood to have taken refuge at the French embassy in the capital Antananarivo.

Hundreds of government supporters gathered outside the building, demanding that he be handed over.

The AFP news agency reports they have since been dispersed by security forces.

Meanwhile, President Marc Ravalomanana has made a national appeal for an end to the violence, while admitting that he has made mistakes during the crisis, which has left about 100 people dead.

"I wish to reiterate, stop the acts of violence. When the constitution and the republic are not respected, then the democracy and the establishment of a successful nation will be hindered," he said live on national TV.

The president and Mr Rajoelina, a 34-year-old former DJ, have been involved in a fierce power struggle for several weeks. (ANA)

FA/ANA/10 March 2009---


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